Tag Archives: fruits

High-fiber diets

All About Fiber

January is Fiber Focus Month and it couldn’t fall at a better time. Almost every popular New Year’s Resolution can be more successful by adding fiber! So what is fiber? Dietary fiber is a type of non-digestible carbohydrate found in plant foods. There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps remove cholesterol from your body, which is good for heart health. Both types of fiber increase feelings of fullness are good for regular bowel movements. Adults should be aiming for 25 – 35 grams of fiber each day, although most are only getting an average of 16 grams per day. Keep reading to learn why fiber is such an important part of a healthy diet. Continue reading

Summer Produce Recipe Round-up

Do I sound like a broken record yet? Seasonal produce saves money, tastes better and is more nutritious. Buy it at the Farmers Market or harvest from your garden. Summer is the best time for buying, cooking, and eating fresh fruits and veggies, as it’s the height of the growing season. What is your favorite summer fruit or vegetable?


Fruits and vegetables in season in Virginia in Summer

What’s your favorite?

If you need some inspiration for new summer produce recipes, check out this list.

Summer Recipes

Quick Breakfast Ideas to Help You Earn an A!

Written by Rachel Sable
Part of National Nutrition Month 2013

cereal label

I’m the type of person who presses the snooze button at least three times before actually getting out of bed. I love my sleep (as do all college students!) and absolutely dread setting my alarm clock. Due to about 30 minutes lost during my over pressing of the snooze button, I have to get ready for the day in the quickest way possible. As a student studying nutrition I am aware of the importance of breakfast and must decide, “What can I eat that is quick yet provides a jump start to my day?” I’ve found that cereal seems to be the most tasteful option.

multi-grain O's cereal

Image by Rachel Sable

Cereal can be a great breakfast option if you are choosing the right ones. I always check the nutrition label and serving size. Never rely on the claims made on the front of the box!



What should be in your cereal per serving size?

  • High in fiber (more than 3g)
  • Low in sodium (less than 200 mg)
  • Low in sugar (10g or less)
Multi-grain flakes cereal

Image by Rachel Sable

Now we all have a hard time choosing the ‘healthy’ cereal over the ‘sugar’ cereal in the grocery aisle but there are healthier cereal options that taste just a great as the ‘sugar’ cereals. Plus, you can include a serving of fruit to your cereal, like I always do, to add some sweetness to your breakfast.

Which cereal will you choose for breakfast?


Mayo Clinic Staff (2011). Healthy Breakfast: Quick, flexible options to grab at home. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/food-and-nutrition/ART-20048294?pg=2


Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down to Prevent Heart Disease

February is American Heart Month!

Heart Health

This heart looks healthy to me.

Did you know that Americans eat an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar per day? This is about 3 times the recommended maximum amount! A new research study found that eating too much sugar raises your risk of heart disease. The study found that Americans who ate a lot of excess sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease than those who limited sugar.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Thankfully, heart disease is related to our lifestyle choices, meaning that we can do things to protect ourselves from getting it. You can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease by making simple changes that help you eat smart, move more and slim down.

Eat Smart to Prevent Heart Disease

Limit added sugars.

  • Common sources of added sugars are sugary drinks like soda/pop, fruit drinks, sweet tea, energy drinks, and sports drinks; and sweets such as cakes, cookies, and dessert candy.
  • Some foods also have hidden sources of sugars such as tomato sauce and breads. Be sure to read the ingredient list to look for added sugar.

Reduce sodium.

  • Prepare more meals at home. This way, you can control the amount of salt in your food.
  • Choose no sodium or reduced-sodium foods. If you can’t buy reduced-sodium canned goods, be sure to rinse them.

Eat more fiber.

  • Eat more whole grains such as whole grain breads, cereals, oatmeal, pasta, brown rice, and quinoa, instead of refined grains. Try to make at least half of your grains whole grains.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Aim to get at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Limit cholesterol and saturated fat.

  • Choose lean proteins like chicken, fish, turkey, pork, and lean ground beef (at least 90% lean). Remove the skin from poultry to cut down on saturated fat.
  • Choose more plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, soy, nuts, and seeds.
  • Choose low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) dairy products, like milk or yogurt.

Move More to Prevent Heart Disease

More More for Healthy Hearts!

More More for Healthy Hearts!

To reduce your risk for heart disease, aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. This is about 30 minutes on most days of the week.

  • Add some cardiovascular exercises, like walking, jogging, swimming, biking, and hiking, to your daily routine.
  • Strength training is an important part of being active, too.

Slim Down to Prevent Heart Disease

Getting to a healthy weight helps to reduce your risk of heart disease. Obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

If you are struggling with your weight, the Family Nutrition Program offers a unique weight management program called Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down. Contact us to find a program near you.

What steps have you taken to keep your heart healthy?

Build a Better Pantry Part 2- Refrigerated Foods

In our first post of the series, I shared healthy, versatile shelf stable foods to keep in your pantry. Today we are talking all about your refrigerator and what you should keep stocked in there. (We’ll save the freezer and room temperature perishable foods for future posts.) Unlike most of the pantry items, food on this list should be used and replaced frequently since it may go bad quicker than your pantry staples.

A nice example of a Better Pantry fridge.  But, can you spot the food safety hazard in this picture? First correct response in the comments will get a special prize!

A nice example of a Better Pantry fridge.
But, can you spot the food safety hazard in this picture? First correct response in the comments will get a special prize!

Better Pantry Fridge Foods

Grains myplate_white_grains-1

  • Not many grains are kept in the fridge, but you can keep whole grains in the fridge to keep it fresher longer.

Fruit myplate_white_fruits-1

  • Plums
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Lemon or lime juice- Adds flavor without salt or fat. Make your own salad dressings or marinades.

Vegetables myplate_white_vegetables-1

  • Carrots- but make sure to buy regular long ones and peel them yourself. Baby carrots are almost twice as much.
  • Leafy greens, especially spinach and heads of lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Summer squash
  • Cucumber

[These are usually your best choices for fresh fruit and veggies (that needs to be refrigerated. I’ll get to the room temperature ones in another post). Remember, seasonal produce is best for price, taste and nutrition, so these choices may vary at different times of year.]

Protein myplate_white_protein-2

  • Eggs- Cheap, versatile, nutritious. Eggs may have gotten a bad rap over the years, but I think they are one of the best healthy foods on a budget.
  • Whole chicken- It’s cheaper to buy the whole bird and cut it up yourself. You’ll have different pieces for different meals and the bones make tasty homemade broth (similar to this recipe).
  • Fresh seafood- Contrary to popular belief, you can find affordable fresh seafood. Take a moment the next time you’re at the store and compare prices with chicken or beef. You might be surprised. Why should you eat more seafood? Find out more here!
  • Lean ground meat- Turkey, beef or chicken, ground meat is one of the easiest to cook with and is usually inexpensive.
  • Other low cost meats- There are many cuts of meat that cost less because they are less tender. Braising or slow cooking help turn these cuts into mouthwatering meals.

Dairy myplate_white_dairy

  • Low-fat or non-fat (skim) milk
  • Low-fat or non-fat yogurt- Choose the plain variety and add fresh or frozen fruit to sweeten it up yourself.
  • Low-fat blocks of cheese- Stick with the brick! Pre-sliced or shredded cheese costs more and may have less calcium than block cheese.


  • Mustard- Low calorie, full of flavor. Mustard is a great choice for a condiment, much better than mayo or ketchup.
  • Hot Sauce- Ask anyone who knows me, I can’t live without hot sauce! Again, its low calorie, full of flavor and a little goes a long way. Just watch out for sodium, but if you keep the portions small, it should be fine.
  • Yeast- If you are a baker, you need yeast for homemade breads.

Did I leave anything out you think is an important, low-cost refrigerated pantry staple? Let us know in the comments.